The old Mussallem House came tumbling down on Monday, April 13 on the grounds of the Maple Ridge Cemetery. (Special to The News)

The old Mussallem House came tumbling down on Monday, April 13 on the grounds of the Maple Ridge Cemetery. (Special to The News)

Heritage home toppled in Maple Ridge Cemetery

Too costly to revamp for public use, a home of a historical family was recently demolished

  • Apr. 23, 2020 12:00 a.m.

A historic home, with ties to one of Maple Ridge’s pioneer families, has been torn down after several years and thousands of dollars was spent trying to preserve it.

What was supposed to become a caretaker’s home and cemetery office came tumbling down last week on the grounds of the Maple Ridge Cemetery.

The Mussallem House was originally constructed at 22548 Royal Cres. in downtown Maple Ridge in 1937, before being moved to the cemetery about two years ago.

Initially, BC Housing had offered to cover demolition costs of the home on the Royal Crescent site.

Instead, Maple Ridge council later accepted a quarter-million dollars towards its relocation, along with a $100,000 anonymous donation – agreeing to kick in $50,000 towards site preparation in the new cemetery site off 214th Street.

Before the move even began, it was estimated the complete relocation, re-servicing, and repurposing of the heritage house would cost upwards of $400,000.

But that pricetag quickly skyrocketed. It cost $214,000 alone to move the building to the cemetery, plus a further $50,000 for basic site prep, and another $47,000 spent by the city for initial architectural renderings.

Simply bringing the building in, and leaving it sit on temporary footings, most of the budget was already gone.

In a report from parks and rec general manager David Boag last September, he reassessed the project and said it would cost a further $1 million to bring to lockup stage – where it could be used for public occupancy. That involved running utilities, creating a new foundation, replacing the roof, and performing extensive exterior repairs.

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Boag suggested an alternative when he presented his report last fall. He proposed the city look at giving the Mussallem House away for free to someone who could move it off the cemetery site within three months.

There were no viable applications, which meant the decision was made earlier this year to demolish the old home.

The desired outcome, Boag said, was to protect a heritage amenity that is tied to a very prominent family in the community, while also enhancing services at the Maple Ridge Cemetery for the benefit of citizens and patrons who visit this site.

Ultimately, the quest to make that happen costs the municipality too much, and old home was demolished on Monday of the Easter weekend.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News